Staring down a decision between Chayce Crouch and Jeff George Jr. as Wes Lunt's successor next season, the Illini perhaps got a new frontrunner Monday.
Dwayne Lawson, a former four-star recruit who spent the 2015 season with Virginia Tech, tweeted that he will be joining Lovie Smith's Illinois program as a junior college transfer next season. He'll have two years of eligibility remaining.
Lawson is big and athletic, a dual-threat quarterback at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds much different in style from Lunt, who played his last game in an Illinois uniform two weekends ago in a season-ending loss to Northwestern.
Lawson spent the past season at Garden City Community College in Kansas after leaving the Virginia Tech program in August. He played sparingly as a freshman during the 2015 campaign, appearing in five games and rushing for 55 yards and a touchdown while throwing just nine passes and completing only three for 51 yards.
When Virginia Tech announced Lawson's departure in August, the Roanoke Times reported that he failed a drug test and could have been suspended.
But after a season in Kansas, he's returning to a Power Five conference program, with Illini Inquirer saying Lawson is expected to arrive in Champaign in July after completing his second semester at junior college.
It's certainly a shift in style for the Illini. Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee recruited another dual-threat quarterback, Cameron Thomas — a three-star recruit from Marian Catholic — earlier this year. Remember that McGee's previous stop before coming to Champaign with Smith was Louisville, where he coached current Heisman Trophy favorite Lamar Jackson, one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.
While Lawson won't be joining the Illini until right before summer camp, he could be the frontrunner for the starting job. Crouch and George saw a good deal of time this season while Lunt battled injuries. Crouch impressed at times, particularly with his legs, rushing for 137 yards in a loss to Purdue. George struggled mightily seeing his first collegiate action, like when he thre four interceptions in a loss to Wisconsin. He did pass for 140 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Michigan State.